Aviva's headquarters, the first tower to exceed the height of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London, is being mooted for redevelopment and demolition.
Designed by Gollins, Melvin and Ward in 1962 and constructed between 1967 and 1969, the tower is considered by many to be the best example of International architecture in London, and one of the few not forced into unhealthy compromises by a restrictive planning system.
Unfortunately despite the building being considered an important historical example listing of it would prove difficult. The Bishopsgate bomb of 1993 gutted the tower and as a result of the damage it was given a full restoration. This means that there is little of the original exterior left to preserve, whilst interior has been continuously upgraded to fit the occupiers needs.
Avery Associates has been working up a design that will see the present building at 1 Undershaft demolished, and replaced with a new skyscraper as tall as almost 270 metres. The challenge is how to fit a very tall building onto this plot whilst having it not appear behind St Paul's Cathedral when seen from Fleet Street.
At the same time the architect has attempted to preserve views of 30 St Mary Axe, popularly known as the Gherkin, when seen from Waterloo. This is one of the first signs that the building is being openly protected, and despite its lack of age is considered historically significant.
Avery's solution has been simple to both problems by having a skyscraper that lines up behind 122 Leadenhall Street, and then continues past it into a pinnacle. When seen from Fleet Street it forms a perfect triangle behind the Leadenhall Building.
It also tapers from all sides as it rises with increasingly smaller floors to reduce the overall impact of the height. Floor sizes vary from 2,125 square metres on the lowest office floor, level four, to 1,400 square metres at level 31 and 433 square metres at level 52 which is the highest occupiable office floor.
The very top of the building, floors 55 and 56 will be a restaurant and bar set at approximately the same height as the Leadenhall Building. The restaurant perhaps will have the greatest indoor space in all of London as the ceiling above it is the hollow spire of the tower almost 100 feet tall.
The southern side of the proposal which is exposed to the majority of the light, is angled out obtusely from the ground. This helps create space at ground level but also allows sunlight penetration into what would otherwise be an overshadowed area around the tower.
The northern side of the building, as with the exterior of the Cheesegrater, has scenic lifts running up its side, although in this case the side of the building is actually at an angle so these lifts won't travel straight up but rather at an incline.
The work by Avery is far off that of a rather interesting look at what could happen to the site, as well as an indication that the much-love International tower that presently exists may be demolished if the 20th Century Society is unsuccessful in saving it. At least if this gets built it'll be the first "wow" building for the City of London since 122 Leadenhall Street.